If you’re familiar with the annual Millennial Engagement Conference, you’ll know that MCON draws a diverse and inspirational lineup of changemakers. Speakers, attendees and sponsors alike convene around a singular mission—to better understand, activate and showcase the power of the millennial generation to drive social impact. And MCON 2017 was no exception, as everyone in attendance and on stage continued to inspire!

I was particularly happy to sit down briefly with fellow MCON sponsor Blackbaud for a Facebook Live interview to talk about the Case Foundation’s nearly 10 years of work and research on Millennial engagement. However, the real action took place on stage where the entire community could engage directly. There were many great moments throughout the 2-day conference, but let me highlight the top six  “power themes” I saw on display at MCON 2017:

    1. The Power of Networking: Building off of last year’s positive feedback, MCON 2017 included an opening night party—no agenda, no speakers, a pure focus on networking and building connections. This year, participants gathered at National Geographic (thank you, NatGeo!), surrounded by the work and photography of an institution that for more than 100 years has inspired adventurers and scientists to preserve our planet. Social capital—the networks of people we know—is a critical component of any social movement. Get out there and build it, share it and advance the issues you care about!


    1. The Power of Showcasing Movement Practitioners: The Igniting Good Town Hall, hosted by #GivingTuesday, took place just before the official start of MCON. The town hall allowed participants to hear from practitioners and learn about their tactics for building, sustaining and unleashing coalitions of Millennials and others to tackle some of our biggest social issues. The session included diverse groups like the Movember Foundation whose movement has contributed to more than 1200 projects for prostate and testicular cancer and mental health and suicide prevention, and Amnesty International’s 7 million-person global coalition campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by everyone. The town hall provided inspiration, through the sharing of practical information, on the potential to affect social change by building strong coalitions and communities around a common cause. Movement building isn’t easy—it always involves behavior change and disrupting the status quo—so learning from history and those in the trenches now was a powerful feature of MCON 2017.

      Photo courtesy of MCON.


    1. The Power of Storytelling: At the Case Foundation, we are huge believers in the power of what we call “inspirational capital,” showcasing through stories, blogs, film, photos and infographics the images and narratives that convey the real history and ultimate end state of the social causes we are advancing. The imperative of storytelling to build community and catalyze social movements was front and center in the exclusive screening of Crown Heights. An awardee at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, the film tells the true story of Colin Warner, an 18-year-old Brooklyn man wrongfully convicted of a 1980 murder and sentenced to life in prison, and his childhood friend who fights for more than 20 years to reverse the verdict. Nnamdi Asomugha, who stars as the friend to Colin Warner in the film also spoke about the film and its context.

      Photo courtesy of MCON.


    1. The Power of Your Platform: Actress Allison Williams of the HBO show, Girls and most recently the film Get Out, closed out MCON with a powerful discussion about the social issues that she is working to address through the use of her public platform enabled by her celebrity status and increasingly influential voice in Hollywood. She has recognized that as an actress her voice can reach millions, and wants to use her proverbial microphone to push for greater action to drive movements for education, and most recently, chronic racism in the criminal justice system and the negative impact on minorities that enter that system. Bravo Allison!

      Photo courtesy of MCON.


    1. The Power of Personal Engagement: As a sponsor of MCON, the Case Foundation, in partnership with Comcast NBCUniversal created the Peacock Lounge to encourage attendees to share their stories of inspiring change in their communities through the use of innovation and technology. And what we heard was definitely inspiring, from a NASA scientist seeking to be more fearless, to an immigrant translating her past struggle into opportunities for young people currently living in countries in crisis, to a cancer survivor building networks for other survivors to more easily make the transition back after treatment, and many more.

      In the lounge, we gave participants a platform to turn their energy and their interest into action, by inviting them to make a pledge at the ribbon wall, to declare their commitment with a Word Art Portrait, and to share their unique story of taking action in the NBCUniversal Chat Box. And the response was overwhelming. We were thrilled to see that in-person engagement come through online as well, as people shared their videos and their portraits on twitter, facebook and Instagram using #GetInTheArena and #NBCUStoriesThatInspire. We look forward to continuing to share those stories in the coming months, so stay tuned for more great content on our website and at NBCUniversal.


  1. The Power of Data and Research: Finally, MCON would not be complete without the vital research on millennial cause engagement conducted by Achieve and sponsored by The Case Foundation. When you’re in the business of catalyzing social movements, data and research is a key component of both designing your programming and measuring its effect. This year’s  Millennial Impact Report will examine how changing social issues are affecting millenials’ interest and engagement in cause involvement, and how millennials activate with specific social issues based on demographic characteristics. Phase 1 of a three-phase research report was released at MCON 2017. This qualititative research phase with a small cohort of millennials is already revealing that today’s evolving political and social climate is changing the cause behavior of millennials. We’re already excited about the potential for Phase 2, which will be released in September.

Huge thanks and congratulations to Achieve and all the sponsorship partners for another successful year of MCON. The Case Foundation has supported Achieve to bring MCON to the world since 2011, and we’re thrilled to see the content and reach continue to grow and improve every year. For a generation of changemakers, millennials can truly find their tribe at MCON where the speakers, the discussions, the sponsors and their fellow attendees all help to inspire them to get in the arena and translate their interests into action to create change in the world.

Keep sharing your stories of using innovation and technology to inspire change in your community with #GetInTheArena and #NBCUStoriesThatInspire.